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Explained: How Delhi govt plans to make more money from booze, defang the liquor mafia

The recommendations include lowering the age of consumption of liquor to 21 from 25; barring the entry of those under the age of 21, and without “supervision”, in places that serve liquor; and shutting all government-run vends and giving them to private players

Written by Mallica Joshi , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 24, 2021 9:14:43 am
new drinking age delhi, new drinking rules delhi, delhi new liquor vends rules, drinking age lowered in delhi, delhi alcohol rates, The indian express, express explainedAfter the reforms are implemented, the government expects revenues to go up from about Rs 6,500 crore to around Rs 8,500 crore. (Picture for representation)

The Delhi government is in the process of drafting a new policy for the sale of liquor in the city. Delhi government ministers presented recommendations to the state Cabinet on Monday, which were accepted.

The recommendations include lowering the age of consumption of liquor to 21 from 25; barring the entry of those under the age of 21, and without “supervision”, in places that serve liquor; and shutting all government-run vends and giving them to private players instead.

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The new liquor policy will be made keeping in mind the recommendations made by the group of ministers.

What are the key features of the recommendations?

Apart from lowering the permissible age of drinking to 21, the policy speaks about the concept of “age gating”, whereby those under the age of 21 will not be allowed to enter places that serve liquor.

According to senior Delhi government officials, those accompanied by parents will still be able to go to these places. The complete rules regarding entry are yet to be formulated.

The main aim of the policy, Deputy Chief Manish Sisodia said, was to blunt the liquor mafia in the capital, which will mean an increase in the revenues of the Delhi government from the sale of alcohol, and to make sure there is an equitable distribution of liquor vends in the city.

After the reforms are implemented, the government expects revenues to go up from about Rs 6,500 crore to around Rs 8,500 crore.

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What is the thing about distribution of liquor vends?

Pointing to the way liquor vends are distributed unequally in the state, Sisodia said that out of the 272 wards in Delhi, there are no liquor vends in 79.

In 45 wards, there are only two liquor vends, while there are three in 34.

In 14 wards, meanwhile, there are more than 11 vends, and 40 wards have between 6 and 10 vends. After the redistribution, each ward will have around 3 vends.

This, Sisodia said, will be a blow to the liquor mafia, especially in areas where there are no legal vends and illicit trade is common.

What happens to government-run liquor shops?

These shops will be closed and new contracts will be given out through bidding. Also, all these vends will have to now pay an excise fee along with the licence fee.

A small fee, of around 2% to 5%, will also be charged at the time of sale. This move, officials said, will remove any incentive for cheating the government out of tax, since licence holders will already have paid a lump sum as excise fee.

At present, out of 849 liquor vends, 60% are government-run. Sisodia said that these still pay less tax to the government compared to the privately-run vends.

Government data also show that 50% of the revenue comes only from 189 shops. Also, half of the revenue comes from just 46 wards. Around 420 of the 849 shops are concentrated in 45 wards.

When will this policy be implemented?

Officials said that the implementation could take up to three months. After the recommendations are approved, the policy and rules will have to be drawn up, after which it will be notified.

The Delhi Excise Act will also have to be amended to lower the drinking age to 21. Fresh auctioning of government vends will have to be completed within three months, since only a three-month extension was granted to the government-run vends.

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